My "Hot" island

debrak_2008January 1, 2013

This is not a kitchen reveal but a basic 101 on heating your island granite.

I will get into why at the end.

We got the idea from Fine Home building magazine. It's basically like installing electric underfloor heating. Uses the same elements.

Built a base of 3/4" plywood. Over that a layer of metal bars and plywood, 1/4". Then a 1 1/2" decorative flexible strip was put around this base. Then heating elements wires were laid and then covered with thinset up to the edge of the trim. The granite was laid over this.

Here are some photos.

This is the base under construction.

Base in place.

Heating element.

Outlets and thermostat.


Could not get the thermostat in black.

DH tells me that Thermosoft has a new product that would have made this even easier.

Also note, our base had to be designed to support the granite. Talk to your granite fabricator/installer to see what support you would need for the granite and the heating element.

We plan to sit alot at our island and eat some meals. We find unheated granite too cold in the winter for comfort. The heat is completely adjustable. We have it programmed for different temps at different times of day. You can override it up or down at anytime.

I am not concerned about bacteria as I don't keep food directly on my counters. Spills are not harder to clean because they get "baked" on. Due to the granite pattern I find stuff everday on my granite that has been there who knows how long and everything wipes up easily.

We love it. If this granite could not be heated we would have done a wood top instead.

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What a great idea! Thanks for sharing the "tutorial". Enjoy your beautiful island!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 12:57PM
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How much electricty does it take to run?



    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 2:31PM
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Are you asking how much are electric bill has gone up?

Hard to tell but we don't except to even notice. When we added a heated floor in one bath last year we didn't notice a change in the bill. Now we just added a heated floor in another bath and just turned on the island.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 2:44PM
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No, I'm asking how much wattage, amperage etc. does it use.

I was hoping you might have one of those KillaWatt measuring devices that give a read out of power consumed. Trying to work out the cost from the bill is almost impossible since all electrical statements are complex interplays of delivery costs, assorted fees and power used. There's often no easily discernable change in the bill for something like this.

I was just curious, so no biggie. BTW, your pictures and explanation were very clear and nformative. Thank you!

You could also (on another matter) simply take the white plastic cover off the thermostat and spray paint it black with something like Krylon paint for plastic. A teeny bit of touch up around the fixed edges of the base done with an rtist brush (and a little puddle of the paint sprayed into a plastic cup) and it would disappear entirely. If you can put on eyeliner, you could do the touch-up work. If you thought it might disappear too much, you could choose another very dark, but not black.

I was wondering after I posted about long it might take my ten indoor cats (and two bunnies) to discover the heated counter. I think it would result in all of them fighting over room on it. Talk about having the problem of cats on the counter!


    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 3:15PM
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2 amps!

Thanks for the idea of painting it. Once the stools are here and in place I think it won't be so noticable.

The cat has been sneaking up there at night before the heat was even turned on!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 3:29PM
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debrak, that's very cool. Stone counters can be such cold things. I don't remember my old tile counter being so cold, but I didn't stroke it like I do the quartz.

liriodendron, 10 indoor cats! You are my new hero!

Oh yes, my cats would find that warm counter and declare it their own Club Med. I have a heating pad that I sometimes put on my lap while reading or watching tv on cold evenings. One of my cats discovered this earthly delight and now she curls up on it even if it isn't plugged in. Cats!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 4:03PM
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this is awesome! Do you have interim pictures of the flexible edge trim and the thinset? Also, what are the metal bars for and are they recessed into the wood or just laid over them plywood?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 10:13AM
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The bars are recessed. Basically DH laid the metal bars and the filled in with plywood pieces. Extra support was needed because we wanted so much empty space under for leg room. FYI the post supports 600 lbs. The thinset does add some weight. What we did for support was more than what was OK'd by our granite place. We just wanted to be sure.

The flexible trim was from HD or Lowes. Not sure what the exact material is but its paintable if you don't want white.

It seems I don't have any photos with the thinset down. DH just filled it in and used a long straight edge to run it over the top to keep it level.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 10:34AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Could you put a thermometer on the counter when it's on to see how much actual rise that the 2 amp gives to the stone. And if you're in a scientific bent, do a time study with how long it takes to get to that temperature and how long it takes to cool off. It's a bit of work, so I understand if you don't want to. But it appeals to the geek in all of us to know the actual data.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:43AM
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I'll have to think about that... What kind of thermometer do you use on granite?

I will take the opportunity in this post to say a big THANK YOU to my wonderful DH! He did all the research and all the actual work to accomplish this.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 12:17PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Well, an instant read IR thermometer gun would be the best choice, but not everyone is geeky enough to have one of those. I'm thinking one of those stick in the ear types would work if you have one. Or even just an old fashioned mercury "shake down" one could measure the rise if you were able to get it low enough.

Here is a link that might be useful: IR thermometer

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 12:28PM
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No IR gun and no mercury thermometer. Digital meat thermometer? I can see how low it goes. I've never actually used it for anything.

I do have a digital mouth thermometer. The way it works I would have to take the temp at different times as it won't work continuously.


    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 2:17PM
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Aquariums have thermometer strips that stick to the inside of the glass. I am not sure what the temp range is but they may work. I also have a heated soapstone island :) We love it on these cold january days.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 3:20PM
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Cool idea !!

Would this also work to help keep food warm if you had a buffet setup on it ? I'm sure it wouldn't keep the food "hot". But at least warm ... so it wouldn't cool off quite so quickly. Thinking hot appetizers at a party, that kind of thing.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 3:57PM
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If I can find something that works without spending more than a few dollars I'll do this test and post the results. If someone has thermometer strips or something small like that and wants to mail it to me to use, I promise to mail it back. While this sounds interesting I really don't want to spend more than a few bucks on it.

Muskokascp we must start a "hot" island club! Just like the ABB club here. I would love to see pics of your island and hear how you heated yours.

angela, there was a post a few years back. Someone just had their first party with the new granite. They commented on how they noticed the food cooled down quickly. This is one of reasons for doing this other than pure comfort.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 4:23PM
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We also used electric under floor heating. Our island is really large and we didn't heat all of it. I have some in progress pictures that I can post later this weekend. It doesn't get warm enough to keep food warm per se but food may not cool off as fast.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 9:23AM
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I love that. It's so cold here today and if my island granite was heated I'd still be lingering there over my coffee. Your stone is really pretty too!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 10:30AM
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what was the source of your chrome leg?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 6:12PM
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what was the source of your chrome leg?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 6:16PM
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debrak said:"DH tells me that Thermosoft has a new product that would have made this even easier."

what exactly did he have in mind?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 7:02PM
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I'm not sure where we got the leg. It was on line and about $100. It came in a few different finishes. It supports 600 lbs.

Apparently Thermosoft has a new floor heating element this is easier to use. Sorry I'm not able to be more specific. Go to

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:19AM
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this has always been one of my back-of-the-mind concerns. Cold to touch!

We laid tile in my MB before in-floor heating was remotely reasonable. Within 2 years, it was. In the meanwhile, my MB floor is just plain COLD. Colder than normal, which tells me from underneath the crawlspace I got trouble. Or at least fallen insulation. I envy everyone who has this type of heat. Really. Envy. The rest of my construction site? nahhh. this? Yes.

Very clever and I love it. Since I haven't afforded my future soapstone counters yet, I'm thinking....

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:00AM
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This a good opportunity for an update on how things are working.

From 4:30 am to 10:00 pm the temp is set at 82 degrees. During the night I think it goes down to 73. Our family starts waking up shortly after 5 am. A little disagreement in the family about if the granite is warm enough by 5:30 am. DD and I think it should start warming up at 4:00 am. Really it is just fine. As the day goes on it does seem warmer on the edges.

If we did again I would want the coils closer to the edge. While the element is supposed to radiate heat 3" on each side it is slightly cooler on the edges. Our concern was how thick the counter would be.

Since the DW is broken right now I do find I can put some slightly wet dishes on the island and they do tend to dry quicker. It was helpful when I had dough rising.

No one says "wow your granite is warm". No one even notices unless they touch the perimeter granite.

We love it. Its just comfortable. I told DH you realize that I will never live anywhere without heated granite on the island or anywhere there is seating. He said yeah he is hooked too.

The electric bill has gone up $20 per month compared to last year BUT last year our winter here was extremely mild. This year we have been below 30 for 2 weeks now.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:15AM
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We installed heated flooring in our master bath and I love it so much! It was just awful before, so cold in that room and the floor with travertine on it now is like walking on ice when the floor heat is off and we aren't even in a cold climate, but cool enough.

We noticed it helps to keep the bathroom and the bedroom much warmer and so I was thinking it might even be helping to keep your whole kitchen feeling warmer. We don't have to have the heat on as high (though it's never been up high) in the bedroom because of the floor. We've been able to turn it down actually from formerly normal setting. We have not noticed one bit of increase in our heating bill at all.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:28AM
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